In a significant development for the LGBTQ+ community and the city of Orlando, the OnePULSE Foundation has announced its decision to abandon plans for a permanent museum at the site of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The foundation, originally formed to raise funds for the museum, cited careful consideration of the project’s scope, conversations with victims’ families, survivors, and the local community, along with unforeseen challenges as reasons for this decision. Earl Crittenden, the board chair of the OnePULSE Foundation, made this announcement, marking a crucial turning point in the efforts to memorialize the deadliest attack on LGBTQ+ people in U.S. history.
The decision came shortly after the city of Orlando offered $2 million to buy the nightclub site from its owner, Barbara Poma. This decision also followed months of turbulence in the relationship between the foundation and Poma, who originally founded the nonprofit with the mission of creating a permanent memorial at the site. The tragic Pulse nightclub shooting occurred on June 12, 2016, during Latin Night, resulting in the loss of 49 lives, predominantly Latino or queer.
The discord between Poma and the foundation escalated when financial disclosures revealed she had already received a substantial sum from insurance for her losses related to the nightclub. The foundation, which had long intended to purchase the site from Poma, deemed it inappropriate to continue payments for the property in light of these new revelations. The city has now taken the initiative to buy the land from Poma, despite offering a sum lower than one she had previously declined.
This turn of events highlights the growing frustration among survivors of the attack and the LGBTQ+ community regarding the progress of the OnePULSE Foundation in establishing a memorial. Critics have raised concerns about the nightclub’s safety measures, which they argue hindered escape during the attack and hampered police access to the building. As the foundation’s plans for a museum are shelved, the city intends to create a monument to honor the victims, rather than a full-fledged museum.
While the OnePULSE Foundation still lists the museum project on its website, this decision marks a significant shift in the ongoing efforts to commemorate the Pulse nightclub tragedy, prompting reflection on the best way to honor the memories of those lost and to ensure the safety and inclusivity of LGBTQ+ spaces.